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UCLA Softball: Bad Strategy by Kelly Inouye-Perez Costs Bruins a Chance for NCAA Title

The failure of Kelly Inouye-Perez to plan for two games on Sunday resulted in UCLA losing both games.

Kelly Inouye-Perez failed to plan for two games on Sunday and that prevented UCLA from having a chance at NC #117.

In my preview of today’s game, I wrote:

Although, considering that UCLA has played primarily at night so far in Oklahoma City, the smart move might be to start Holly Azevedo in the first game to help Rachel Garcia conserve some energy for the second game if it becomes necessary.

After UCLA lost both games today against Florida State, it’s clear that it would have been the right move.

That’s because, after pitching a complete game in game one, Garcia ran out of steam in the second inning of game two and UCLA went on to lose both games today to the Florida State Seminoles and, now, the Bruins are heading home.

Things started out looking fine for the Bruins in the first game.

Rachel Garcia hit an RBI single which scored Kylee Perez in the third inning to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

But, in the bottom half of the sixth, Elizabeth Mason of Florida State, who was the designated home team, hit a three-run home run to give the Seminoles a 3-1 lead.

UCLA threatened in the top of the seventh and even brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Aaliyah Jordan with two runners on and two outs. But, Jordan fouled out to first to end the game and force a second game.

In the second game, Garcia threw a scoreless first inning, but that’s when things got bizarre for the Bruins.

To start the second inning, Kelly Inouye-Perez made a pitching change and brought in Selina Ta’amilo, who hadn’t pitched since May 6th. She gave up a home run to the second batter she faced and the Seminoles followed that with a double.

That chased Ta’amilo in favor of Garcia. A fielding error scored the Seminoles’ second run and a two-run homer made it 4-0.

Kelly Inouye-Perez finally turned to Holly Azevedo for the final two outs of the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Taylor Pack hit a two-run home run to cut the Florida State lead in half.

The Seminoles got to Azevedo in the top of the fourth when Sydney Sherrill hit a three-run homer to make it 7-2, but the Bruins got two runs back in the bottom of the inning when Pack hit an RBI single to score Bubba Nickles and Brianna Tautalafua.

The final nail in the Bruins’ coffin came in the top of fifth when UCLA gave up five runs including a three-run homer to Carsyn Gordon. That gave the Seminoles a 12-4 lead and put UCLA on the verge of losing by mercy rule for the first time this season.

Briana Perez kept that from happening by hitting a homer to right that made it 12-5. While Aaliyah Jordan singled, Garcia ended the inning by hitting into a double play.

Garcia returned to the circle for another inning of work as Kelly Inouye-Perez tried to prevent further bleeding. That worked as Garcia went 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth, but, with two runners on, Inouye-Perez sent Malia Quarles, a .200 hitter and one of the slowest runners on the Bruins team to pinch-hit for Paige Halstead, who hit .207 this season. It was the latest bizarre move by the Bruins’ coach because Quarles grounded into a double play which ended the inning and the Bruins’ final scoring threat of the game.

And, just like that, UCLA’s season is over, due to the failure of Kelly Inouye-Perez to be prepared in the event of a second game.

The bottom line here is that FSU’s Lonni Alameda outmanaged Kelli Inouye-Perez twice today and Florida State beat UCLA has now won eight of the last nine times the Seminoles have played the Bruins.

The season should not have ended this way.

Go Bruins.